In recent months we’ve been hearing more and more about the software-defined car as the future. Increasingly, almost all systems in the vehicle are being controlled by computers and that has led to a massive proliferation of code and processors. Bosch, the world’s largest automotive supplier first set out down this path more than 40 years ago and it has now decided to consolidate more than 17,000 employees across disparate groups into a single new Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division.
Computers first appeared in cars in the 1970s as automakers grappled with the then-new emissions control and fuel economy requirements. The arrival anti-lock brake systems in 1978 from Bosch brought electronics to active safety systems and it hasn’t slowed down since. I personally spent my entire 17-years in automotive product development working on control systems and writing software.
In the past decade, the number of individual computers in many cars has ballooned past 100 with the amount of code also growing by a factor of 10 to more than 100 million lines in many cases. Often these disparate systems have to share data from sensors and their operation must be coordinated. That makes it a real challenge when much of it is supplied from different divisions of a company or even has to be integrated from different suppliers.
The complexity of modern electronics/electrical (E/E) architectures is making it more challenging to actually assemble components like wiring harnesses into vehicles so suppliers like Bosch and competitors Continental and Aptiv
However, managing the different software controls that are now being combined into these more powerful compute platforms requires much closer coordination. That’s why Bosch has decided to combine multiple divisions into its Cross-Domain Computing Solutions unit. Bosch currently has an annual software engineering budget of 3 billion euros and that is expected to grow at a 15% annual rate in the coming decade.
The new division will also have responsibility for development of the in-vehicle compute platforms and all of this will be overseen by Bosch board member Harald Kroeger. The goal is to be able streamline development and increase the pace of deployment of new capabilities and functions. The Automotive Electronics division was already consolidated earlier this year and from the beginning of 2021 it will be part of the new organization. Also included in the new group will be existing organizations responsible for powertrain control, car multimedia and chassis systems.